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Smart Ventilation

The Smart Ventilation project is a multi-year lab project to develop control strategies and algorithms for residential ventilation systems. The objectives are to reduce the energy associated with ventilation by 40%, while maintaining equivalent Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) compared to typical ventilation systems without smart controls. Smart ventilation also aims to reduce peak demand and intake of outdoor pollutants. Previous related work developed first-generation smart ventilation strategies and algorithms that are currently being commercialized, including the following control strategies: time-shifting ventilation to hours of the day when the energy required to condition the air is less; and taking into account the operation of other air moving systems, such as kitchen/bath exhausts, driers, and economizers. Current project work will extend this effort to investigate improved humidity control and to synchronize ventilation system operation with home occupancy. In addition, a new effort is starting in 2016 to examine the performance of low-cost pollutant sensors to determine their suitability for ventilation control, as well as their potential diagnostic and monitoring applications. This project includes modeling, laboratory testing, field experiments, and collaboration with ventilation equipment manufacturers. Smart ventilation is one of the three main technology areas being developed as part of the Building America IAQ Roadmap.

Kitchen Ventilation

When there is inadequate kitchen exhaust ventilation, burners and cooking can emit air pollutants that produce indoor concentrations in excess of health guidelines. Yet, current standards for kitchen exhaust ventilation do not address pollutant removal effectiveness. LBNL is developing a proposed new ASTM test procedure to measure kitchen range hood capture efficiencies, which is necessary before kitchen range hood performance standards can be set. This work is in collaboration with an ASTM work group representing manufacturers of range hoods, potential users of the test method, and organizations that would like to refer to the proposed test method in codes and standards. The test method for wall-mount hoods is almost complete. Future efforts on this project will focus on support to the ASTM work group to finalize the test method, and lab work to develop a similar test method for island and downdraft hoods. The use of capture efficiency rather than air flow specifications allows the development of improved range hoods that can remove pollutants at lower air flows. This will enable energy savings associated with conditioning air used to ventilate kitchens and the associated fan power used by the range hood. This work on range hoods is part of the Targeted Pollutants section of the Building America IAQ Roadmap.

IAQ Score

Healthy indoor environments are qualitatively valued by homeowners and buyers; however, there is no trusted quantitative method for rating and comparing homes for IAQ. The development of an IAQ Score similar to energy scores for homes, like the Home Energy Rating System Index, will enable homes with good IAQ to get credit for their better performance and will help establish a level playing field for valuation of IAQ by the housing industry. The proposed IAQ Score will enable builders, contractors, buyers, and sellers to assess IAQ performance of specific homes, and to compare homes with different packages of IAQ-related features. We anticipate that a credible IAQ scoring system will lead to improved market valuation of home IAQ and will enable cost optimization of IAQ features. This project builds on tools previously developed by LBNL to value the health benefits of reduced indoor pollutant exposures.

A metrics analysis will be used to create weighting functions that account for the variables that most affect home IAQ, including home and ventilation system characteristics, climate, and the resultant capability of the home to manage risks associated with health impacts of targeted pollutants, moisture risk, and odor. This year a Beta version of the IAQ Score suitable for field testing will be created, and the Beta version will be evaluated by Building America research teams and other interested parties. LBNL will work with key stakeholders to refine the Beta version and explore implementation approaches via partners such as RESNET and ASHRAE. This work on an IAQ Score is a key part of the IAQ valuation section of the Building America IAQ Roadmap.

For more information, visit the Healthy Efficient Homes Research and Standards webpage.